MAINTENANCE

Very dirty vinyl fence

An exaggeration, but you don’t want your fence to look like this!

Washing

Technically that could be the end of it.  If you want your fence to shine like the day it was installed you will have to wash it.

While vinyl fence comes closer to being totally maintenance-free than any other fence product on the market today; it will become dirty just as does a freshly painted house or new automobile, or any other product which is exposed to atmospheric conditions.

However you can keep your vinyl fence clean with very little effort.  Like anything else exposed to atmosphere, a heavy rain will do wonders for cleaning it, or you can wash it down with an ordinary garden hose.

If neither rain nor hosing does a satisfactory job, just follow these simple instructions:

Normal Maintenance
  • Get an ordinary, long handled car washing brush at your auto supply store.  This brush has soft bristles, and the handle fastens onto the end of your hose, which allows you to wash the fence just like you wash your car.
  • If the dirt is hard to remove, such as soot or grime found in industrial areas, wipe down the fence with a solution made up of the following: 1/3 cup household detergent (e.g. Tide, Fab, or equivalent powder detergent), *2/3 cup household cleaner (e.g. Soilax, Spic & Span or equivalent), * and 1 gallon of water.  We have also found Magic Eraser or similar products work very well in most cases.
  • If mildew is a problem in your area, use the solution previously mentioned, but substitute 1 quart of the water with 1 quart of liquid laundry bleach.
  • If you want to wash down the entire fence, start at the bottom and work up to the top to prevent streaking.
  • If stubborn stains exist, use the following chart.  Follow the precautionary labeling instructions on the cleaning agent container.  Protect shrubs from direct contact with cleaning agents.

Reference to proprietary names is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to imply endorsement
on the part of OK Vinyl Products for these products.

 

Clean Vinyl Fence

With a quick wash, your fence could look like this!

Download this vinyl maintenance chart in a .pdf for easy reference.

 

Staining Agents Cleaning Agents Preparation Special Cleaning
Procedures
Light oils and greases, heavy greases caulking compound, wax, crayon, asphalt, tars, etc. Solvents – Mineral spirits, V.M.P. naphtha auto tar remover Remove excess with plastic or wood scraper Use soft cloth to apply mineral spirits.  Avoid polishing stained area by using too much pressure.  After removing stain, rinse area with water.
Inks (marking), mail polish, paint, lipstick, gum Cleaning fluid (trichloroethylene) Remove excess with plastic or wood scraper.  Chill gum to remove excess. Use soft cloth to apply cleaning fluid (trichloroethylene).  Avoid polishing stained area by using too much pressure.  After removing stain, rinse area with water.
Rust stains Oxalic acid (auto radiator cleaner), CLR* Make solution of 1 tablespoon of oxalic acid crystals to 1 cup of warm water. Apply oxalic solution with soft bristle brush, wipe with damp cloth, and then flush with rust-free water.  Use rubber gloves and protect eyes and face.
Stubborn stains Xylene, lacquer thinner Try above procedures first Dampen small section of cloth with product, rub vigorously.

 

MAINTENANCE OF OTHER TYPES OF FENCES

 

To be clear, we only sell vinyl, but we wanted to take a look at the carious types of fencing available, and the care required for each so they maintain their individual beauty.

We off this information because we firmly believe consumers should make an informed decision when they are choosing to purchase a fence for their home, strata, business, or where ever they may require vinyl fencing products.

Old wooden fenceIt’s important to note the options you have in cleaning your vinyl fence.  If your area is prone to graffiti this can be removed from vinyl fencing, unlike other surfaces which require repainting or pressure washing.  The problem with these fixes is you are then left with areas of the fence that will never look the same as all the others.  Another potential problem with pressure washing is if you have a lower grade of wood fencing or if it’s starting to rot or deteriorate you may blow through weaker areas of the fence.

In our research we have considered the different types of fencing available on the market.  There is cedar and white wood fencing available, some ask, ‘Which is better?’  Many feel cedar is preferable.

The average lifespan of a cedar fence is really a matter of maintenance. When choosing red cedar and taking longevity of the boards into consideration, you want to make sure that you purchase #1 grade fencing boards. The average lifespan of a good cedar fence is probably about 15-20 yrs providing that you maintain it by sealing and resealing it.  It’s recommended that this is done annually to ensure the wood lasts.  Longevity also has to do with the thickness of the boards. The thinner the board and the more knotholes it has will lessen the lifespan even with proper maintenance.  Cedar is of course more naturally resistant to different factors but in all honesty there are many factors to consider.

A good grade white wood fence with proper upkeep can last just as long. You want to keep the planks above the ground and no contact with the earth which will lengthen the lifespan by reducing the ability to take in moisture from the bottom and possible termite infestation.

There are cost factors to consider also.  Red cedar #1 grade is going to cost you more. If what you are considering is a stained fence, then a cedar fence is going to probably hold up a little longer, how much longer depends upon weather conditions and whether it is going to be subjected to water.

Once you’ve chosen a good grade of cedar there are steps you can take to make sure your fence will perform well and look good for years.

Some steps you should take:

Inspect your fence, ideally every few month, at least annually, taking note of signs of damage.  This can include staining around nails and screws, cracks, dulled or dirty patches and rot.  These will only get worse if neglected.

Clean your fence regularly, layers of dirt and grime will dull your wood fences appearance.  You can use a pressure washer using a relatively low pressure (high pressure can damage your fence), using 15 and 25 degree spray tips.  You should stay 18” from the surface of the wood.  Use a swinging motion to move the wand slowly across the length of the board, keeping the width of the spray aligned with the width of the board.  You’ll see the wood look brighter as the surface is washed away.  Stop washing when the wood stops changing color.

Repair by removing corrosive fasteners form the fence.  Some types of fasteners react with the chemicals in the treated wood to create brown or black stains.  Remove nails and screws around stained areas then clean the stain with oxalic acid or TSP.  Next replace fasteners with non corrosive ones (stainless steel, aluminum or double-dipped galvanized steel).  These are more expensive but will prevent stains.  Remove damaged boards and replace with new cedar.  Eventually this new cedar will weather to match the rest of the fence.  Countersink protruding nails or replace with new non corrosive fasteners.

Seal your fence.  Apply wood stain to new or weathered fence will bring back some of the original glow (or leave weathered if you prefer).  Use a semitransparent oil-based stain made for exterior use.  Apply with a brush or medium nap roller.  The stain should dry for at least 24 hours.  Then coat with a clear, UV-resistant sealant to reduce future damage.  Use a similar brush or roller to the one used for the stain.  Allow the wood to absorb as much sealer as it will accept and use more than one coat if you need to.  Work the sealer into all niches and corners.  Keep the edges wet to prevent marks where the coats overlap.

Aluminum fenceSome fence companies say that no maintenance is needed for aluminum fences however, in order to improve the aesthetic appeal and increase the longevity of your aluminum fence, you will have to apply a coat of paint occasionally. Without a fresh coat of paint to seal the aluminum, the fence will be open to oxidation (aluminum corrosion) and mildew.  While painting an aluminum fence may seem like a daunting process, it is actually quite simple if you follow the proper instructions.

A drop cloth should be laid down along the fence to catch debris.  Using a wire brush gently scrape away any loose paint, oxidation or existing grime.  Do not scrape too hard as this could damage the metal itself, you do not need to remove all the paint but only the loose materials.

Use a rust (oxidation) inhibiting spray on any bare spots that have been completely stripped of paint to protect the aluminum from moisture damage.

Use acrylic paint in order to aid in the oxidation prevention process.  Work with only a small amount of paint on your roller so drips do not form.  Ensure you get paint in every corner and crevice.

Allow the paint to dry overnight.  Look for spots that might have been missed and touch those up.

Wrought iron fences are extremely durable and strong but they take a bit of care to prevent rusting and deteriorating.  Being that this type of fence is one of the most expensive types of fencing you’ll want to ensure it lasts.  The maintenance needed for a wrought iron metal fence is upkeep on the finish. The amount of maintenance depends on where the fence is installed.

Some things you can do to preserve your investment:

Using a wire brush, remove loose debris. Dust the fence off when this is completed so you have a smooth, dust free area to work with.  Take a damp rag and apply mineral spirits, rubbing firmly to remove additional rust. Once the rag is dirty, replace with a clean rag and continue.  Allow the mineral spirits to completely dry.

Use a primer and thin the primer with mineral spirits if it is too thick. Follow the directions on your paint can.  Apply the primer in smooth, even strokes to the metal and allow it to dry.

Apply the top coat of paint over the primer. Use long, smooth strokes, allowing it to dry before applying a second coat to decorative metal fencing. Paint two layers of topcoat paint on metal fences fence for long-lasting protection and to preserve a fresh finish.

Some warnings to keep in mind:

Use 3” wide brushes, this will get the job done faster and be easy to handle.

Feelings of light-headedness or nausea are signs of a possible allergy to the mineral spirits or the paint. Stop painting; get some fresh air with good circulation and see a doctor if the symptoms persist.

Chainlink fenceChain Link fences do not require a lot of maintenance other than cleaning.  They are a good fence when used in the right situation.  We just don’t like the institutional look of them.